Tropical storm warning posted for Sarasota, Manatee

A Flood Watch continues for all of South Florida through 8 pm Sunday evening and the National Weather Service could extend it into Monday

A Flood Watch continues for all of South Florida through 8 pm Sunday evening and the National Weather Service could extend it into Monday

Subtropical Storm Alberto is expected to hit the panhandle of Florida Monday afternoon while bringing the threat for heavy rain, gusty winds, and risky storm surge for those areas.

The storm prompted Florida, Alabama and MS to launch emergency preparations over the weekend amid expectations Alberto would reach land sometime Monday. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, which gives him wide latitude to prepare.

"I ask everyone to please make final preparations to your family emergency plan, especially those that live in mobile homes and low-lying areas", said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. This means that tropical storm conditions (winds of 40 miles per hour sustained) are possible.

Subtropical Storm Alberto continued to track toward the Gulf Coast on Sunday.

Forecasters cautioned that heavy rain and tropical storm conditions could reach the northern Gulf Coast well ahead of the center of Alberto making landfall. By Saturday morning, the storm was gathering strength as it moved north.

Florida panhandle braces for impact as Alberto approaches
This is almost 60 miles east and about six hours sooner than the forecast issued by the National Hurricane Center on Saturday. And in the Tampa Bay area on the central Gulf Coast, cities offered sandbags for homeowners anxious about floods.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for entire the west coast.

At The Coast: A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and a Flash Flood Watch is in effect across Southern Alabama.

"If you are in an area under a storm surge watch or warning and have not heard whether or not you should evacuate, contact your local emergency management and leave today according to their instructions", Knabb said.

The NWS said waves as high as 18 feet could pound the popular Gulf beaches in Baldwin County, Alabama, and northwestern Florida on Monday, bringing with it deadly rip currents.

Sunday: Showers likely, mainly before 2 pm.

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The Florida Keys and south Florida are forecast to receive 3 to 6 inches of additional rain while the rest of the state is expected to experience 1 to 4 inches.

The storm is the first named cyclone of 2017, which started to form days before the official start of the hurricane season.

While Alberto was expected to become a tropical storm upon landfall, the likelihood of the storm becoming a full-blown hurricane remained low.

Last year's hurricane season saw a number of major storms that caused major damage in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.

According to WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss, the storm will stay away from North Carolina in terms of direct impacts, bringing possible heavy showers and thunderstorms to the state on Monday and Tuesday.

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